Tag Archive: when words fail


Library - 91Had Good King Wenceslas looked out of my window, far from seeing snow that was deep and crisp and even, he would have seen un-gritted roads and snow sculptures that either look like something out of a Tim Burton movie or designs that are too unsavoury to be discussed here. And looking at the snow it got me thinking that unlike the cheesy results when Christmas is used as the subject of a song, the topic of snow has generated some wonderful results. Underground classics such as Driven Like The Snow by obtuse grumps The Sisters of Mercy, the hauntingly beautiful Fifteen Feet of Pure White Snow by Nick Cave (although the underlying message is about something far darker of course) and in typical humour Frank Zappa’s, Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow.

 

Well hopefully the snow related chaos that has caused so many gig cancellations over the last week are behind us, especially as one of the bands playing Songs of Praise at The Victoria tonight are coming all the way up from Cardiff. Spyglass mix up heavy alt-rock grooves with a melodic grunge density and will be playing the support slot to SkyBurnsRed, a band who incorporate classical grandeur, raw, dark and emotive rock, sensuous violin and an aggressive delivery. Also taking their chosen genre to new heights is opener Adepto Futui, a band that captures the feeling, vibe and voice of traditional blues but who manage to twist it into interesting, Byzantine heavy and original shapes.

 

Meanwhile down at The Beehive an interesting local proposition is taking place. Having grown out of the Lazy Sunday Afternoon Sessions at the Art Centre, Fieldfare is the combined acoustic guitar and vocal arrangements of local stalwarts, Steve Cox, Paul Griffiths and Tim Sawyer reworking each other’s songs.

 

There are a few big shows at The Furnace this week; the first comes in the form of Cheltenham’s Young Kato on Friday. Pop may be a dirty word these days but along with LAB label mate Portia Conn, they will be proving that there is a lot more to the genre than dance routines and auto-tuners. Pop beats, warm atmospherics and infectious melodies collide with confident guitar-work to re-establish the credibility of the genre. Also on the bill Old Colours continue to ply their trade of fragile, cinematic, otherworldly indie creations and Salute the Magpie open the show. If something more raw, lewd and beardy is to your taste then check out The Hamsters From Hell in The Rolleston next door.

 

Back at The Beehive and another Cheltenham band, Stressecho indulge the venue with a wonderful angst-folk set, beautiful, understated music to accompany poignant and open story telling.

 

More big noises at The Furnace on Saturday, this time taking a much more aggressive format with hard edged pop-punk from south coast trio, Hold The Fight and local, upbeat, post-hardcore champions When Words Fail. Back upstairs in The Rolleston there is a bit of a paradox. Metal Gods claim to “try and bring something fresh to the scene” which is obviously commendable but then state that they play classic rock covers from the 80’s/90’s. Not sure what to make of that, still that’s not to say it won’t be a good night out for those still proudly holding on to their patched denim jackets and Let It Rain tour shirts.

 

 

Riffs Bar play the acoustic card and have a collection of acts both local and otherwise  playing in a very stripped down fashion, including the 50’s rock and roll vibe of Josie and The Outlaw, the wonderful harmonies and intricate guitar blends of Ethemia and the joyous and upbeat creations of The Real Raj.

 

Missin’ Rosie seem determined to invoke the wrath of the folk police (they do exist, I checked with the Home Office) by taking folk music and rocking it up to a point where those people who denounced Dylan for going electric in ’66 would be jumping off of tall buildings. Catch their mix of standards and originals at The Sun Inn on Sunday.

 

And so we end in our usual mid week oasis of music and two options. If you haven’t had enough of the loud and shouty, then Teenage Kicks at The Furnace has a Headbanger Special on Wednesday with music and neck ache courtesy of Twisted State of Mind, Dissolute, Wreckoning and Stands To Reason.  A more mellow listening experience can be had at The Running Horse with the wonderful Rosellys whose British-American ranges from acoustic country to stomping bluegrass, from gentle balladry to barn dance hoedowns. Not what you expect from the M4 corridor on a chilly midweek evening.

 

Okay, the summer hasn’t panned out quite the way we hoped it might, but this weekend there is something happening that will hopefully make you pause from those traditional summer activities (building arks, herding pairs of animals, hold surfing contests through Leicester town centre, etc.)  – Summer Breeze is upon us. Every year this gradually evolving festival manages to out-do itself and this weekend will be no exception. Running for two days at Warren Farm near Liddington, there are so many bands that the safest way to make sure you don’t miss anything is to check out their easily found website, but my top recommendations would run something like this.

The big name is that wonderful, award winning songstress, K T Tunstall (pictured), and if the Saturday crowd can’t make central Swindon bask in the words to Suddenly I See, drifting off the downs on the night air, then I will be writing to my M.P. Strange, balkanised and klezmatic, anarchic, world music mash-ups come courtesy of The Destroyers and The Congo Faith Healers offer up gypsy jive, swamp blues. The festival also sees the welcome return of a couple of old favourites, the indescribable Flipron and the rootsy, slide guitar work of Willie and The Bandits. The local crop of bands offers some treats too, such as the dulcet tones of Charlie Bath here in full band mode, dance driven anthems from Atari Pilot and there is even a brace of Morleys; the haunting and soulful Jazz and the slick acoustic pop of Jake. No sign of Paul though, shame.

Right, back into the urban environment and tonight at The Victoria, the hardest gigging punk band of them all rolls into town. Charlie Harper leads his vintage hoodlums into their fifth decade, with the same old unbridled energy and enthusiasm. Not only do they have local legends, Nobody’s Heroes in support, they have Jamie Oliver on drums. Pucker!

More rafters will be raised at The Rolleston with The Racket. To celebrate front man Plummie’s 12th birthday (I don’t know, I’m just going on the way he acts!) he brings his beautifully chaotic band along to do what they do best. With punk drum and bass maestros 2 Sick Monkeys plus a man answering only to the name Doza on the bill, it is not a night for the faint hearted.

Something more restrained can be found at The Beehive with Claude Bourbon. This virtuosic Frenchman blends everything from blues and folk to jazz and flamenco, ethereal eastern vibes and luscious Latin grooves into a real showcase of world music.

Staying at The Beehive as we kick off Fridays serving suggestions finds I See Hawks in L.A. channelling the ghosts of the old time High Lonesome sound and the vibes of the 60’s counter culture and seeing that they have come all the way from Los Angeles to play for you, the least you can do is stroll down the road to check them out.

In a battle of the big riffs, The 12 Bar goes head to head with The Furnace. UNK Industries presents a showcase of pop-punk and post-hardcore bands including Hold The Fight, When Words Fail and From Embers at the former whilst the latter plays host to local poor boys making good, The Dead Lay Waiting who are joined by various shades of metal from Silent Descent, the Mask of Virtue and Dissolute. Loads on offer for the fan of the hard and heavy, but not great planning on the part of the venues.

It may come as no shock to you if I admit that I’m not the most switched on with popular culture, so I freely admit that I had no idea who Britain’s Got Talent competitor, Alex Davis was until I checked him out on-line. Fans of Ed Sheeran will be into him, I suspect, but what they will make of the weird musical landscape that support act Super Squarecloud build around themselves is anyone’s guess. The Fixed’s brand of slick indie is also worth going for.

If you don’t make it to Summer Breeze over the weekend, alternative arrangements come in the shape of early Whitesnake (i.e. before the poodle hair, spandex and Steve flippin’ Vai ruined everything) blues guitar maestro Bernie Marsden at the Furnace on Saturday and Sunday night offers up Bob Smith at The Rolleston with a bag of Americana, folk and rocking blues.

Even if the weather isn’t keeping to it’s part of the seasonal bargain, the Gods of Excellent Music are certainly concerting all their efforts upon our part of the world and the imminent arrival of this years Old Town Festival means another attempt to warp the time-space continuum to try and fit all the information into this weeks column.

Yes, Old Town Festival is upon us with a packed program of entertainment. On Saturday there will be music all day, first at the bandstand with Little Dylans, Dominic French, Talk in Code and Messer’s Gilmore ‘n’ Jaz, being just the tip of the terpsichorean iceberg. In the Bowl, meanwhile, various vocal groups, dance and performing arts schools under the guidance of the Commonweal Performing Arts Academy will be parading their artistic wares. This is followed by an evening of music with such diversity as False Gods to The Frazer Tilley Trio and from Nudy Bronque to The Useless Eaters.

As is only fitting, Sunday follows more sedate lines with a wonderful mix of world dance, classical, orchestral, brass, jazz and choral music. To be honest you could just spend your every waking hour taking in the sights and sounds of the festival, but there are still a host of other options this week.

Back into chronological order and tonight is the regular Bands and Burlesque show at The Victoria. Alongside the glamour and glitz spearheaded by Susie Sequin (and lets face it, with that on your birth certificate it is inevitable you end up on the stage) are the funky grooves and the effortlessly cool lap guitar of Hip Route. A short walk down the hill and you can experience the lush harmonies and smooth folky-jazz vibes of Anglo-Swedish trio, We Ghosts. They play The Beehive.

So, The Ocelot Magazine. You know, the one with all those jokes about Football and Politics that no-one really gets and that rather wonderful music column…ahem!  Anyway, if you have been affected at all by the contents of the magazine they are prepared to make it up to you in the form of a party at The Victoria to celebrate their 6th birthday on Friday. Music comes in the form of the old school, rocksteady and ska beats of The Erin Bardwell Collective, the blistering and switched-on modish pop-punk with all the trimmings of Black Hats, another day out for Hip Route and the name on everybody’s lips, the warped Beck meets Brecht creations of Crash and The ‘Coots. You will notice that recently they have shortened their name to save on space (not to mention law suits) and their bassist has shortened his hair to save on product.

Zen Elephant at The Beehive will be mixing up the gypsy-jazz jive with a roots folk vibe to show just why they are held in such high regard on the underground folk circuit.

The Furnace will be proving that the only way is Essex, not by inviting some orange bimbo or bronzed buffoon to cash in on their fifteen minutes of fame but by inviting Rolleston regular booking Dave McPherson to bring his whole band into town. Melodic alt-metallers, InMe, have just finished supporting The Rasmus (remember them?) across Europe to promote their fifth album, The Pride and you can catch Brentwood’s finest at The Furnace with support from local icons Mortdelamer and the wonderful emo-rave hybrid that is Natural Tendancy.

Competition for the rock audience comes from Riffs Bar with a night of the hard and heavy led by ascending stars of the post hardcore genre, When Words Fail. Burthru, 5 Lives Left and Fist Full of Foozy add to the weight of the night.

Saturday brings another tsunami of metal this time crashing through the doors of the 12 Bar and depositing such bands as Austria’s Give ‘Em Blood, What the Night Brings, Moments Before Oblivion and Wreckoning. I think the band names are almost prophesising what sort of night it is going to be. Not for the faint hearted.

The Sunday afternoon session at The Beehive sees the welcome return of The Shudders. Pirate fixated buffoons or deft weavers of folk, lo-fi pop, country rock and various jiggery-punkery? Well, both actually but it’s still good to have you back chaps.

Stay out for more great music at The Rolleston that evening  from The Blue Trees, purveyors of stripped back Americana flavoured rock and the flawless, soulful sounds of The Emsworth Duo.

Final shout of the week (before the editor shouts at me for taking up too much space…again!) goes to The Running Horse Sessions on Wednesday, this time showcasing a brace of acoustic duo’s, Ethemia and The Black Feathers.

You know things are going well when over the course of one long weekend  you have the options of watching feisty female rock from Minneapolis, a Celtic rock guitar legend, sublime shoe gazers from along the M4 corridor, chilled out, cinematic folk or harmonious indie soundscapers. Well, I only managed to catch two of those shows but which ever you look at it, if the music scene were going for a medical, you would have to declare it in the rudest of health. And this week is set to continue along the same lines.

There is trouble brewing at The Rolleston tonight as Rumour Shed goes musically head to head with Dave Corrigan in the acoustic grudge match of the year. Weapons will include deep and meaningful lyrics, luscious vocals, joyous and lilting songs, tweed and possibly sandals. Beards are preferred but not essential.

Stiff competition for the folk/roots audience comes from itinerant troubadour Jez Hellard who brings his Djukella Orchestra to the Beehive for a night of folk and funk, rumba, reels and reggae, jigs and gypsy jazz. Rock fans will find their spiritual home for the night at The Victoria with Simon Townsend (baby brother of the legendary Pete) but make sure you get there early enough to catch sublime support act Kola, a wonderful blend of Heartbreaker era Ryan Adams and The Waterboys chilling out.

Staying at The Victoria, Friday sees genres and creative boundaries thrown aside as the madness that is Flipron grace the stage. This bohemian pop collective manage to fall somewhere between The Bad Seeds playing Disney tunes and Charles Dickens CD collection (the fact that this is obviously an impossible scenario says a lot about the band.) Swindon’s own folk-pop-ska mavericks, the Costello’s, will be kicking the night off.

Thanks to a flying visit by their errant and trans-continental drummer, The Dacoits, have a few gigs lined up and you can catch their dark, poetic garage rock at The Beehive. Support comes in the shape of an equally rare outing for alt-country punks, Black Sheep Apprentice.

The Furnace also fires up for the first of three gigs this weekend. Red Seas Fire is a brilliantly executed weave of melodic metal, progressive structures, power and passion. They are joined by Burials, Chronographs and the symphonic-laced hardcore sounds of The Cold Harbour.

Saturday sees The 12 Bar get in on the act with a host of young indie bands spearheaded by the aptly named Young Blood. Having formed from the remains of Napoleon In Rags, they seem to have adopted a less modish, more fired up and contemporary fuel for their indie vehicle; you will not be disappointed. Add to that support slots from The Fixed, Retrospecs, Last Nights Victory and Luna Machine and you have the makings of a fine night.

If ska-punk floats your boat, one of the finest exponents of it, Slagerij, will be creating musical havoc at The Victoria. They are joined by West Coast (Clevedon, North Somerset to be exact) skate punks Mr Zippy and Bristol’s The Richardson Maneuver. In terms of energy, stage presence and song crafting, this gig, to quote the infamous Nigel Tufnell, goes up to eleven.

It’s all a bit full on down at The Furnace as post-hardcore crew When Words Fail headline their last UK gig for a while in aid of Louise Hunt and her Paralympic bid. They are joined (after more chopping and changing than a choppy changey thing!) by the euphoric sounds of This Fall; Eastbourne’s post-punks, Hold the Fight and the pop punk of Days on Juno.

All the way from Italy to The Rolleston, The Beatholes cleverly re-invent The Beatles for a punk and rock audience. If you have ever imagined what Eleanor Rigby would sound like given the Iron Maiden treatment or mused over Motorhead’s take on Get Back, then this is the place to be.

Sunday’s big noise comes in the shape of Carridale leading a slew of great pop-punk bands at The Furnace. Hot Damn, Sell Your Sky and Tides of Change also feature.

Final mention of the week goes to my favourite new band of the moment, SkyBurnsRed (pictured top)who play The Victoria on Wednesday. Kicking alt-rock underpinned by intricate grooves and sweeping eastern violin vibes…what’s not to like? They are joined by the funked and punked creations of The Me!Me!Me’s? and in a last minute change to the line up, the effervescent and ubiquitous Nudy Bronque.

This weeks Sounds Around Town link